May 6, 2008
A new study claims to have cracked the mystery of why eating garlic can help keep the heart healthy.
The key ingredient is allicin, which is broken down into the foul-smelling sulfur compounds which, unfortunately, taint breath. These compounds react with red blood cells and produce hydrogen sulphide which relaxes the blood vessels and keeps blood flowing easily.
Hydrogen sulphide generates a smell of rotten eggs and is used to make stink bombs. But in low concentrations it plays a vital role in helping cells to communicate with each other.
And within the blood vessels it stimulates the cells that form the lining to relax, causing the vessels to dilate. This, in turn, reduces blood pressure, allowing the blood to carry more oxygen to essential organs and reducing pressure on the heart.
A research team from Birmingham’s University of Alabama bathed rat blood vessels in a bath containing juice from crushed garlic. They soon saw striking results, with tension within the vessels reduced by 72%.
The researchers also found that red blood cells exposed to minute amounts of juice extracted from supermarket garlic immediately began emitting hydrogen sulphide.
Lead researcher Dr David Kraus said: “Our results suggest garlic in the diet is a very good thing. Certainly in areas where garlic consumption is high, such as the Mediterranean and the Far East, there is a low incidence of cardiovascular disease.”
A balanced, nutritious diet, which includes a modicum of garlic, combined with a regular exercise regime can help reverse an underlying cause of excess weight and obesity, namely the imbalance of blood glucose and insulin called Insulin Resistance. By reversing this latter condition, you can facilitate weight loss.
If left unchecked, obesity can also lead to the cluster of increased risks for heart disease called Metabolic Syndrome (Syndrome X) as well as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) – a leading cause of menstrual irregularity and infertility, acne and other skin conditions, excess facial hair and female hair loss. Overweight women do not have a monopoly on PCOS, however. Up to 50% of PCOS sufferers may be females who are of normal weight or even lean.
Overweight men are at greater risk of prostate cancer. Insulin Resistance-linked weight problems are also associated in both sexes with Type 2 Diabetes. Before the onset of this latter condition, however, most people develop reversible Pre-Diabetes, a condition in which blood sugar levels are elevated beyond normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes.
If ignored, Pre-Diabetes may lead to the Type 2 variety, which can only be managed for the rest of a person’s life. Many Diabetics require daily injections of insulin.
Type 2 Diabetes severely increases the risk of blindness, amputation and kidney disease, as well as a heart attack or stroke. Some 90% of people with Type 2 also suffer from excess weight or obesity.